Archaeologists [Carlos Elera and Jose Pinilla] found the mass grave, in an eight meter deep and 150 meter wide pit, in Lambayeque on the country's northern coast.
They also unearthed the remains of dogs and horses at the site, which is next to a key Sican ceremonial center, in the historical Pomac Woods, 500 miles north of Lima.
The Pomac Forest, first home of the Sicán civilization, has revealed another ancient secret. Under Las Ventanas, one of several adobe pyramids that poke out above the dry forest’s trees, one of the most ancient tombs of the elite has been discovered.
By Wilfred Sandoval, Photos by Richard Hirano
In 1991 the Ministry of Agriculture ordered the construction of a levee along the edge of the river La Lechethat runs through the heart of the natural and archaeological reserve in order to help alleviate the damage done by the regularly overflowing river. More than once have heavy rains and the river bursting its banks have destroyed large portions of the Sicán-era pyramids. The levee, it was discovered afterwards, turned out to have been built in an area where one of the lower platforms of pyramid Las Ventanas extended out to.
It is here, in this section of the pyramid now damaged by both man and nature, that researchers from the Sicán Museum have made one of the most surprising discoveries.
When work to rescue this part of the pyramid began, archaeologists only expected to find destroyed and fairly insignificant objects. First they registered dozens of ceramic items, and some silver and gold ones, but as expected, the context had been lost due to the damage by the construction work.
While registering these bits and pieces scattered across the area, one object in particular, something ceramic with an orange tint to it at 20cm deep, caught the attention of archaeologist José Pinilla. The reason? It was intact!
When uncovered it wasn’t just any ceramic object, but was exquisitely made with four faces in high-relieve showing the Moche god Ai Apaec. According to Pinilla this is a first for a Sicán tomb in Lambayeque. Unfortunately we’ll never be able to find out more about the elite that it belonged to, the rest of the site was completely destroyed by the heavy construction machinery.
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